Types of physical exercise in Medieval Serbia (XII-XIV century)
Savić, Zvezdan, Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Niš and
Stojiljković, Nenad, Filozofski fakultet – Departman za istoriju, Univerzitet u Nišu
Of all the Serbian lands established and extinguished during the Middle Ages, the most significant and the most respected one was that of the great ruler Stefan Nemanja. His dynasty was founded in the seventh decade of the 12th century. His descendants had been on the Serbian throne for two centuries before the dynasty ended in 1371 with the death of Stefan Uroš V (The Weak). In contrast to the enemy armies, which had greater experience, arms and more men, Serbian people had the courage, constancy and strong will to substantiate their warrior skills. Serbian folk poems represent basic sources of knowledge about the physical and social life in Serbia germane to the history of physical education. They are also a source of information on the types of physical exercise in medieval Serbia. The beginnings of Serbian poetry reach back to the distant past, to the period of pre-Christianity, which can be elucidated through epic poetry. Those poems inspired chivalrous acts and in that way they were instrumental in forming a combatant spirit and high morale in younger generations. However, the greatest part of epic poetry is an “endless exultation against violence, slavery and inhumanity”. But this celebration of our ethics is not only stylistic, it is represented in the contents, in characters and acts of the heroes. That is why Serbian poetry from the period of the House of Nemanjić represents an interesting field of research for the history of physical education, i.e. research into the types of physical training and activity.